NEWS: Obama Endorses Holiday Voting
Friday, May 13th, 2016
Shout out to Rutgers student journalist Dan Corey who got President Obama to endorse, on the record, the idea of weekend voting and a national Election Day holiday. Our Jacob Soboroff discussed the news on MSNBC:
— Jacob Soboroff (@jacobsoboroff) May 13, 2016
Here’s the transcript of Obama’s full exchange with Corey:
THE TARGUM: You have pointed out many times that voter turnout in the United States is very low, especially compared to other developed nations. But in many other countries, the government automatically registers voters and holds elections on days that are weekend days or national holidays. Do you think it’s time for the U.S. to follow their lead?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Absolutely. We are the only advanced democracy that makes it deliberately difficult for people to vote. And some of it has to do with the nature of our history and our Constitution, where we allow individual states to determine their own processes for structuring elections within certain boundaries.
I think that we know some states like Oregon are doing a much better job at extending mail-in voting, increasing tools like online voting that are safe and secure, give people flexibility over a long period of time, (and) early voting. And so everything we can do to make sure that we’re increasing participation is something that we should promote and encourage. Our democracy is not going to function well when only half or a third of eligible voters are participating.
The single most dramatic political change that could occur in this country — and the best way for us to relieve the frustrations that people feel around the political process — would be if we had greater participation that was more reflective of the day-to-day concerns that people have.
We, of course, had our own conversation with President Obama almost 10 years ago about the same topic, when he was Senator Obama and Jacob was our Executive Director. Now the big question is whether or not anyone in Congress cares to move Election Day from Tuesdays, where it has been for nearly 200 years.